“Minstrel’s Song” (Moody Blues Cover)

Originally posted 2009-08-18 06:18:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Moody Blues chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to an all-new week of cover song music videos at my personal favorite blog on the web today — and I swear I’m not biased!  I had a busy but very enjoyable weekend, including going to see the Moody Blues as they tore the house down at the “Chevrolet” Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut.  (I put the Chevrolet part in quotations because I refuse to recognize that as the name.  Just about everyone I know still calls it the Oakdale, despite Chevy’s blatant self-promotion.)

The song I chose to learn and record came out of the music I listened to on the way home from the concert on Saturday night, namely the Moody Blues’ “Live at the Isle of Wight Festival,” a concert from 1970 that was released a year or so ago on CD and, more recently, on DVD.  As could be expected, this concert includes songs from their first three LPs, but it certainly includes a healthy portion of songs from their A Question of Balance album, released that same year.  My session tonight, a John Lodge track titled “Minstrel’s Song,” is a song from that aforementioned album.

The live version from 1970 is an upbeat version and a great performance, but there really is no comparison to the studio recording on the album.  Even though I agree that A Question of Balance simply doesn’t hit the same peaks of concept album perfection that On the Threshold of a Dream and To Our Children’s Children’s Children did — what a year 1969 must have been for Moody Blues fans and music lovers in general! — in my opinion, it can’t be beat in terms of production quality and a constant flow of catchy, interesting songs.  I suppose this makes sense, as it has been said that the album was an effort on their part to record songs that would be more easily reproduced in concert.  Thankfully, though, they did return to their inventive soundscapes for their following two releases.

Now, let’s pause for a moment to add in some Laptop Sessions trivia.  In the past, there have been two other tracks from A Question of Balance recorded as cover song music videos here at the blog.  One is a foregone conclusion — the truly amazing album opener “Question,” a true acoustic masterpiece, if only for the opening guitar strum pattern.  And I’ll even tell you that Jim recorded it.

My question is: what was the second song from this album to be recorded by a Laptop Sessions contributor, and which guitarist here at the blog recorded it?  If you know, then be the first to add a comment below!

The reason I chose this song is the same reason I have spent the past two days listening to the Moody Blues nonstop — first the concert CD, then A Question of Balance, followed by Strange Times — namely, because the concert was such an entertaining experience.  This is probably the third or fourth time I have seen Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge in concert, and they continue to impress every year they come around.  (They must have a decent fanbase in Connecticut, as they appeared at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday, the next night after performing at the Oakdale!)  As my third and final concert of the summer, there was some pressure here based on how much I enjoyed my previous two, Bob Dylan and Wilco respectively.  And, again, there was no contest; the Moody Blues only get better — or, more realistically, stay at the same level of greatness — with age.

Some highlights from this stop on the Moody Blues’ “Summer Nights Tour 2009” included Justin Hayward foregoing his usual collared shirt for a lime green t-shirt with a definite summer feel to it, then a white t-shirt after the intermission break.  The set list included some interesting song choices, most notably “Peak Hour” from the “Lunch Break” segment of their debut album Days of Future Passed.  Supposedly, this song has not been performed in concert for about 40 years!  Regardless, it was one of the highlights of the night, combining catchy vocals and impressive harmonies with amazing instrumental work.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the night came when Graeme Edge, before performing “Higher and Higher,” recalled the classic mentality that it’s all about “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.”  He claimed that it was still true, even if the drug of choice may have changed to Viagra.

Obvious crack at their age aside, I can’t stress enough that the Moody Blues are still at the top of their game.  Ever since Jim and I spent a summer a couple years ago listening to all of their albums (each one repeatedly) in sequence, the Moody Blues have held a special place in my heart and in my thoughts of the summer time.  Each time they come around, I realize they have a lot to live up to in terms of their past performances and their impressive discography.  All in all, they played for almost two hours and included at least one song from just about every studio album they ever released, with the exception of two of my favorites, The Present and Strange Times.  Jim might correct me here, as I decided to entirely enjoy this concert without keeping track of the set list or writing a full review, but my full review would have gone something like this: don’t miss out on the chance to see the Moody Blues if you get the chance!

Well, that about does it for me.  On a final note, is it a bad sign if, after playing my finished Laptop Session as I wrote this post tonight, my cat reached over and hit the “Volume Down” key on my MacBook?  I’m not even kidding here.  I hope you don’t have the same reaction!

See you next session!

“It’s Up To You” (Moody Blues Cover)

Originally posted 2008-01-08 21:34:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone- tonight’s session is a Moody Blues song that’s always been a favorite of mine. I’ll be the first to admit that most of the Moodies songs aren’t exactly “rockers”, but when they do come out with one, it’s AWESOME. “Story In Your Eyes”, “Ride My Seesaw”, and “I’m Just A Singer in a Rock’n’Roll Band” come to mind as great songs with a rock sound and some amazing lead guitar playing by Justin Hayward.  I honestly believe that Justin Hayward is one of the most underrated rock guitarists out there.  The man can absolutely shred on the guitar and he plays it perfectly every time- even in concert.  Have you heard the beginning to “Question” on 12-string acoustic guitar?  Even playing that half-speed on acoustic guitar is difficult.  Hayward is the man, and that’s all there is to it.

The Moody Blues song I’ve chosen for tonight’s cover song music video, “It’s Up To You”, has a great guitar riff, classic Justin Hayward introspective lyrics, and just a great melody.  “It’s Up To You” my favorite song off of the “Question of Balance” album.  That album, to me, is a bit faster paced than any of the other “first seven” albums they did.  But, I think the songs aren’t nearly as good (as a whole) as the songs on albums like “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” and “To Our Children’s Children’s Children”.

One thing about Justin Hayward’s lead guitar playing I love is his double or even triple-tracking of the lead guitar.  It’s so unique.  George Harrison used to do it with his famous slide guitar solos.  But, Justin Hayward is a fan of more distortion on his guitar solos and riffs.  So, it’s a different sound.  Hayward triple-tracks the lead guitar for two reasons, in my opinion.  First, he wants to make the part sound more powerful.  You have to imagine that little thin high E string on a guitar.  Now, strum it with a piece of plastic.  It’s going to need a lot of power to cut through drums, bass, and a synthesizer.  So, triple-tracking the lead guitar (that’s recording it three times) is a great way to make it stand out from the rest of the sounds in the band.  Another reason why Hayward did it is the reason why I think it’s so cool: harmony!  He would take the lead guitar part and then play it three times.  Except, each time he’d play a different note of a chord.  Played all together, you get a great sound that’s full and unique.  I did that on some of my songs, too.  For instance, on “Give and Take” from my album “What About Today?”, I did a three-part lead solo.  Listen to that song online on my website at http://jimfusco.com.

I hoe you enjoy tonight’s Moody Blues cover song! Keep checking back for more music videos because we are determined not to miss a day in 2008! We’ll see how long it lasts, but let’s just say I’ve already got enough cover song videos for the next couple weeks!

“Little Sadie” (Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2008-03-29 00:52:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Okay, it’s time to separate the Dylan fans from the fanatics… If you’re familiar with this song, you’re probably in the latter category. For your pleasure (I hope), I decided to record “Little Sadie,” a very simple but fun song from Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait album. This is, of course, not to be confused with “In Search of Little Sadie,” the song two tracks earlier on the album with essentially the same lyrics but a different arrangement. Now, Dylan is known for never performing a song the same way twice, but he doesn’t usually record two different versions on the same album…

I know that Self Portrait is considered perhaps his weakest and most disappointing album (aside from Dylan, which wasn’t even released on CD!), but I’ve always loved the simple and soothing feel of the recordings. True, some are throw-aways, but I actually recorded my very first Laptop Session last year with “Living the Blues.” He does a couple great covers — Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Mornin’ Rain,” for instance. His cover of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” is just about the only recording I’ve ever heard where he double-tracks his voice. If you listen carefully, it sounds like one voice is the gruff Dylan and one voice is the “Lay Lady Lay” Dylan. Interesting…

Without further ado, I really hope you enjoy this song and please rate and/or comment on it!

Check back tomorrow at http://LaptopSessions.com for another great all-new session from Jeff!

My New Amp…For More Than Acoustic Rock!

By Jim Fusco:

Hi folks, Jim here. I just made a big purchase, so I wanted to share it with everyone, especially because it will re-shape the way my guitar sounds.

I’m so excited to get my Fender Blues Junior amplifier!! It’s pretty small in size, no more than a foot and a half or so each way, but man, does it pack a punch. My old amp, a HUGE Fender one, was way too powerful for anything I used it for. I could never turn it up past 2.5 on the dial!

Plus, my old amp was a solid-state amp. With solid state amps, you need to add your own effects. For instance, I always like using an “overdrive effect” to get my distortion sound. I even bought a guitar pedal called the “Tube Screamer” to get the tone I wanted. A solid-state amp just means, you plug in your guitar and the sound comes out of the speakers. Simple. It reproduces whatever you put into it, just louder.

Fender Blues Junior Amp

But, the new amp is called a tube amp. This particular one is ALL TUBES because it has a tube pre-amp and tube driver.

What does that all mean?

Well, I’m new to this, too, but here’s my explanation. Think of the tubes as those old TV tubes people used to use. Actually, this is the SAME EXACT THING! Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you want to go back to that old technology?” Well, there’s many resons:

  1. The tubes take time to “warm up” when you turn the amp on. This tells us that the sound from my guitar is going through the tubes for amplification, and thus “warming up” the sound. With a solid state amp, it goes directly to the speaker. Going through the tubes naturally processes the sound. Think of talking into a hollow tube. It makes your voice more “warm” sounding because it’s bouncing around in there.
  2. The tubes create a natural “compression” effect. This is really great for me because it makes individual notes sound as loud as when I play chords. So, I have better control over the volume of my solos when I’m playing rhythm guitar most of the time and a solo for 30 seconds!
  3. It’s real “overdrive”. All those guitar pedals I own (and it’s quite a few) try to emulate the sound of an overdriven amplifier. “Overdrive” means that you’re pushing too much sound through the tubes and the signal starts breaking up. It goes from “clean” to “dirty” sounding. With a tube amp, I can naturally overdrive my guitar to get the real sound out of it. It’s what makes some guitars cost more and others cost less. Since I have some really nice guitars, I’ll be looking forward to how they “really” sound when overdriven.
  4. It just sounds amazing. I plugged into this thing at the music store and I felt like a rock star. The notes seem to organically “grow” from the speakers, rather than just explode. It makes the chords sound better. It makes my playing sound better because you actually hear things like 7th chords. Plus, it makes things like those crazy back and forth solos possible, too.
  5. It’s a heck of a lot smaller, and therefore more portable. My old amp weighed more than Chris.
  6. It’s still got power. This new amp is only 15 watts of power. Doesn’t sound like much. My old amp is about 150 watts. Too much power! But, 5 watts of tube amp power are equal to 40 watts of solid-state amp power! So, really, we’re talking about an amp that’s got the equivalent of 120 watts here. But, I might just be able to turn this one up a bit and experiment with more sounds without waking the neighbors!

Hopefully this shows you how passionate I am about this purchase, and that I really do my homework when I’m getting something new. I’m so excited to take my guitar sound to the next level and you’ll LOVE it, too!! I’m going to be posting different articles on ALL of my equipment (guitars, etc) and I hope Jeff and Chris will, too. Now I gotta check my front porch when I get home…